Amidst the continuing standoff between the Indian Army and China's PLA, the Centre on June 22 reviewed ongoing road projects along the Sino-Indian border, and decided to expedite work on 32 of them, officials said. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and attended by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) among others.
"Works will be expedited on 32 road projects along the border with China and all concerned agencies will extend cooperation to fast-track the projects," an official privy to the meeting told PTI. A total of 73 roads are being constructed along the Sino-Indian border. Of these, the CPWD is working on 12 and the BRO on 61, under the direct supervision of the MHA, which is the nodal authority for all border infrastructure-related projects.
The move comes amidst the ongoing row between the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh sector. Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in a clash with the PLA in the night of June 15-16 in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh. At least three vital roads are being constructed by the BRO in Ladakh, another official said. Apart from the roads, priority will also be given to projects related to development of other border infrastructure like power, health, telecom and education.
According to the MHA officials, there has been a surge in works related to roads along the Sino-Indian order in recent years. The formation-cutting works were completed for 470 km roads along the border in 2017-20, in comparison to just 230 km in 2008-17, the officials said.
Surface-clearing has been done for 380 km of roads in 2017-20, in comparison to just 170 km in 2008-17, they added. Six road tunnels were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to just one in 2008-14. Besides, additional 19 road tunnels are under planning stage, they said, adding a total of 14,450 metres of border road bridges were completed in 2014-20 in comparison to 7,270 metres in 2008-18.
A total of 4,764 kms of roads were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to 3,610 kms in 2008-14. Similarly, the budget for the road projects has also been increased in recent years. Budget for road projects per year between 2008 and 2016 was in the range of Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 4,600 crore. In 2017-18, Rs 5450 crore were earmarked for road projects for the border areas, Rs 6,700 crore in 2018-19, Rs 8,050 crore in 2019-20, Rs 11,800 crore in 2020-21.